Five Players Off to Shockingly Hot Starts At The Plate in 2023

There are All-Stars who we expect to be atop league leaderboards, but here are five guys who no one expected to play this well to start 2023.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 12: Jarred Kelenic #10 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by Teoscar Hernandez #35 of the Seattle Mariners following a home run during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 12, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Despite struggling after being traded to the San Diego Padres last August, it seemed like a shrewd move when the Cleveland Guardians signed Josh Bell to a two-year, $33 million deal this past offseason.

Thus far, it’s been a disaster.

In 12 games, the former All-Star is slashing just .109/.250/.130 with an unsightly .380 OPS. Among qualified position players, Bell’s -0.6 WAR is the worst mark in baseball. It’s quite a shocking start considering Bell was so good for the Washington Nationals last season that he won a Silver Slugger Award, despite struggling after being traded.

For as shocking as Bell’s slow start has been, these five names are on the other end of the pendulum, hitting so well in the early going that it’s almost hard to believe.

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Franchy Cordero, New York Yankees

After Cordero failed to make the Baltimore Orioles roster, it felt like a fairly insignificant deal when the Yankees signed Cordero to a split contract on the eve of Opening Day. But it’s now mid-April and Cordero is tied with Aaron Judge for the team lead in home runs (four), leads the Yankees with 11 RBIs and has a 1.133 OPS. This may very well turn out to be a flash in the pan for the 28-year-old, but it’s been an impressive one.

Bryson Stott, Philadelphia Phillies

Stott posted a .735 OPS after the All-Star Break in his rookie season, a vast improvement over the .561 mark he finished the first half with. However, no one envisioned the former first-round pick having such a torrid start to his second season.

With the addition of Trea Turner, Stott has shifted from his natural position of shortstop to second base. And he’s also started to hit like his new double-play partner, posting multi-hit efforts in nine of his first 12 games. A year ago, Stott didn’t record his ninth multi-hit game until July 10.

Adam Duvall, Boston Red Sox

This one comes with an asterisk because Duvall is now on the injured list with a fractured left wrist. But we would be remiss not to mention the scalding-hot start that the veteran outfielder was off to after signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the Red Sox.

Following an underwhelming campaign with the Atlanta Braves a season ago, Duvall was baseball’s best player through the first eight games of the season, slashing .455/.514/1.030 and already matching the 1.0 WAR that he posted the entirety of the 2022 season, per FanGraphs. Alex Cora and company will eagerly await his return.

Victor Robles, Washington Nationals

Once one of the more intriguing prospects in baseball, Robles has gotten consistently strong marks for his defensive play over the past three seasons, but struggled at the plate. So it’s interesting to see him hitting .455 with an .855 OPS early in 2023.

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Robles is making just $2.3 million in 2023, and the Nationals have a $3.3 million club option to keep him in 2024. If he has turned the corner offensively, the 25-year-old could become an intriguing trade candidate this summer.

Jarred Kelenic, Seattle Mariners

There seems to be a strange dynamic where Edwin Díaz and Kelenic — who once went in separate directions in a megadeal between the Mariners and Mets — can’t be successful at the same time.

So naturally, as Díaz rehabs after surgery on his torn right patellar tendon, Kelenic looks like the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr. The 23-year-old has homered in three consecutive games, all at Wrigley Field. The average distance of said bombs has been a whopping 437 feet.